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Pliny the Elder 4.0

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What if I told you that most of what we knew about Pliny clones was wrong? Well, about six months ago, I received an email from a fan of the blog who happened to stumble across some info about the Pliny recipe that looked pretty different than what we’ve heard from Vinny in the past. I’m intentionally leaving out some details, out of respect for Russian River, but I have every reason to believe the info to be accurate. The same recipe info was later posted to a popular homebrew forum, although it surprisingly didn’t garner much attention. With that said, please don’t ask me for specifics, as I’m already pushing my moral boundaries here. I really debated whether or not I was going to post this recipe at all. After some deliberation, and considering just a cursory search will turn up the same details now, I decided that I’m not exactly divulging any secrets. So here’s my experience brewing this newer (more accurate) Pliny recipe.

 

So what were the big surprises? Well, actually quite a few.

– Cascade! This was the biggest surprise
– There’s no Carapils in the malt bill
– The mash temp is quite a bit higher than expected (154)
– The 45 minute addition is Amarillo Extract
– There’s less CTZ than I thought
– Half the bittering hops I had

I like many others, I had adopted my Pliny recipe from the popular ones Vinny has provided over the years. So we might as well take a look at how close my most recent Pliny recipe was from the real thing.

 

Mine                                       Theirs

87% 2-row                             93.5% 2-row
3.8% Carapils                        1.7% English C60
4.2% C40                              4.8% Dextrose
5% Dextrose
Mash @ 150F                        Mash @ 154F

Hops:                                     Hops:

@90:                                     @90:
48AAU                                  20AAU

@45:                                     @45:
9.5AAU Extract                     4.7AAU Amarillo Extract

@30:                                     @30:
1oz Simcoe                           1oz Simcoe

Flameout:                              Flameout:
1oz Centennial                      .75oz ea Cascade, Centennial, Amarillo, Simcoe
2.25oz Simcoe

Dry Hops:                             Dry Hops:
41% CTZ                              41.5% Simcoe
29% Simcoe                         33% Cascade
24% Centennial                   18% CTZ
6% Amarillo                         7.5% Amarillo

 

Quite a few differences, huh? RR is using just a splash of Crystal 60, and no other specialty malts. We did have the amount of dextrose roughly correct though. They’re also mashing quite a bit warmer, which I assume makes up the difference for the extra crystal and carapils. The hopping looks quite a bit different; there’s less than half the amount of bittering hops! While they obviously get better hop utilization at their scale, it’s certainly not 100% more. The 45min addition is Amarillo specific, which also raised an eyebrow. The flameout addition is a big surprise. First, they’re using Cascade, which I’ve seen no mention of before. Secondly, the varieties are pretty evenly split. The kettle hops are not as Simcoe-heavy as I assumed. As for the dry hops, we’re in the ballpark, but not exact. The Centennial is replaced with Cascade, and there’s less CTZ than I used.

 

So how did I end up adapting this into a recipe to brew. First, the amount of hops at 90min is small enough that I’m not going to bother with hop extract. Gone is the idea we need like 3.5oz CTZ for bittering. I’m using a mere 1oz of Apollo to achieve the 15AAU required. Also, considering the Amarillo Extract addition is so small (.5oz of pellet equivalent) and with 45min left in the boil, I’m using pellets. I don’t even know if Amarillo-Specific extracts are available to home brewers, but I see absolutely no need to bother.  Also, I brewed this with WLP090 because I really don’t find much of a flavor difference between it and 001. I know WLP090 really well at this point, so I try to use it whenever possible.

 

The timing of this recipe was actually perfect. The wife and I bought a house earlier this year, and I needed to brew a big IPA for the housewarming party. What better than a keg of Pliny! As for the brew day, I’m still working out the kinks of brewing at the new house. I’ve setup my brew stand at the end of the garage, and while it works, the setup isn’t ideal. It’s funny how little of a difference it takes to throw you off your game. Especially since I’ve had zero changes in equipment for roughly two years. Nonetheless, everything went smooth enough. I mashed for 60 minutes, boiled for 90, allowed the wort to whirlpool for 15, and finally chilled the batch down to 64F.  From there I hit the wort with a good 90 seconds of O2, pitched the yeast, and buttoned-up the fermenter fridge at 17.2C.

 

I ramped the temperature up as fermentation progressed until it hit 20C near the end. After 4 days I added the first dry hop addition directly to the primary. I sat on those hops for 3 days before racking to a clean, sanitized, keg to stand in as a secondary. The second dry hops were added, and the keg was kept at 20C for another 7 days before crashing the (secondary) keg, and racking to a clean serving keg. After a week of carbing this up, we were in business.


Brewed: 04-15-15
Dry Hopped: 04-22-15
Kegged: 04-29-15
OG: 1.070
FG: 1.010
ABV: 7.9%
IBU: 70
6 Gallons


14lbs 2-row
4oz English C60
11.5oz Dextrose
Mash at 154*
1oz Apollo @ 90 (The recipe is actually 8.2ml Generic Hop Extract, or 15AAU)
.33oz CTZ @ 90
.5oz Amarillo @ 45 (The recipe is actually 2.5ml Amarillo Extract, or 4.7AAU)
1oz Simcoe @ 30
.75oz ea: Cascade, Centennial, Amarillo, Simcoe @ 0
Whirlpool for 15min
WLP090 – Super San Diego Yeast


Dry Hop 1:
1oz Simcoe
.833oz Cascade
.5oz CTZ


Dry Hop 2:
1oz Simcoe
.75oz Cascade
.36oz Amarillo
.36oz CTZ

 

So how did things turn out? Spot on. How different is this beer than my prior clone attempts? Not much. That was actually the biggest thing I learned from this. While the recipes looked quite a bit different, what we ended up with in the glass was pretty similar. Less bittering hops led to a slightly ‘cleaner’ tasting hop profile, and the Cascade in the dry hop somehow gives the beer a slightly more resiny aroma. I’m not really sure how, but it does. The color, mouthfeel, and even the citrus profile are exactly how I remember Pliny.

So ya, that’s about it. If anyone decides to brew this, I’d love to hear your feedback. This has to be one of the more popular home-brew IPA clones out there. I’m curious how this compares to others’  attempts at cloning Pliny; especially those Pliny-accificandos. Cheers!

57 thoughts on “Pliny the Elder 4.0”
  1. Portelance 10.30.2015 on 4:23 PM Reply

    25 IBUs seems shockingly low for a double IPA, no? Really interesting…

  2. Alex Vance 10.30.2015 on 5:29 PM Reply

    Where do you get your English crystal 60?

  3. Scott 10.30.2015 on 5:48 PM Reply

    It should be 70IBU measured. The calculated IBU is likely in the 100s

  4. Scott 10.30.2015 on 5:49 PM Reply

    It's usually listed as English Medium Crystal. I think the lovibond rating is usually like 55-65 or something like that. I tend to like it just a little bit better than Domestic Crystal. I'm pretty sure Russian River uses an American Crystal in this beer. Either way, it won't be a big difference.

  5. This is obviously very interesting, but not shocking that the recipe changed over time. Supply & quality of raw ingrediants often drive these changes. I consider every recipe I get a point in time sorta deal. If you aren't making adjustments to match the desired taste of the beer, you won't be able to keep your results consistent as materials change over time. Very cool, thanks for the update.

  6. Unknown 10.30.2015 on 6:22 PM Reply

    Any thoughts on how this new recipe might affect your recipe for Pliny the Younger? Might be interesting to see how it would fare against your existing PTY malt/hop schedule.

  7. Grey Ghost 10.30.2015 on 7:43 PM Reply

    The recipe you are mentioning wasn't overly popular, but its still a 7page long thread.

    Looks very nice though. Would be nice if you could bottle up a few and send them 🙂

  8. Unknown 10.30.2015 on 9:47 PM Reply

    When do you add the dextrose?

  9. Patrick D. Baker 10.30.2015 on 10:56 PM Reply

    I've known that Vinnie got rid of carapils, used C60 and mashed at 154 for awhile. Vinnie is super responsive to emails. Vinnie mashes higher because his yeast has become more attenuative over the years, and since it adds more body he ditched carapils.

    Scott, did you hit 1.010 FG mashing at 154?

    Biggest surprise here is the gypsum and chloride mash and kettle schedule being equal. Everything written on IPA water says higher sulfate lower chloride. Thoughts?

  10. Brett 10.31.2015 on 1:43 AM Reply

    A lot of brewers (especially in VT) are actually starting to use higher levels of chloride than sulfate. Still surprised to see those levels in such a prototypical "west coast" IPA.

  11. kzoo stout 10.31.2015 on 1:21 PM Reply

    Glad to see you are posting again. I've learned a lot from your blog, and I was worried that you quit. I brewed Pliny 3.0 this summer. It came out well, and my only notes for changing were "reduce bittering charge to 10-15ml", so I'm kind of pleased that I was on the right track. Thanks for the update.

  12. GT_Charlie 11.01.2015 on 12:26 AM Reply

    "I consider every recipe I get a point in time sorta deal." Don't 'ya just know it! I cloned SN Torpedo over the course of a year and got it mostly spot on. Then SN changed the dang recipe! I don't know what to say about my clone except that it's like Torpedo used be back when the first started making it. 😛

  13. GT_Charlie 11.01.2015 on 12:28 AM Reply

    In the boil. Stir vigorously as you add it 🙂 .

  14. Unknown 11.02.2015 on 11:08 PM Reply

    What type of water profile are you using for this? Are you using RO water? Very interested in making a Pliny clone again.

  15. John Parrette 11.04.2015 on 12:59 PM Reply

    Fascinating! I have your version 3 in the fermenter now for Thanksgiving. I'll brew version 4 for Christmas. What do you think of the flavor impact of WLP090 is versus 001? I've noticed that 090 spent starter wort has a mellow fruity flavor, where 001 to me seems lemony. I'm not sure how much of that translates to finished beer flavor after a controlled ferment. Thanks for the post!

  16. Joey 11.06.2015 on 3:25 PM Reply

    Glad you're back. Your blog is a wealth of information for relatively new brewers like myself (only 6 batches in). I brewed 2.0 about this time last year, so I'll have to put 4.0 on the docket.

  17. Shawn Sharrow 11.11.2015 on 6:31 PM Reply

    Just want to say thanks for deciding to share with the community. For many people an accurate clone recipe is as close as they will ever get to trying a Pliny The Elder, so I'm sure it is much appreciated. I don't want to put words in Vinnie's mouth over how he'd potentially feel about this other than to say he has always been more than willing to share his vast brewing knowledge and experience with the community.

    Going to brew some of this up this week and hopefully get my hands on some of the real deal when my batch is ready for a side-by-side tasting.

  18. Chris Moss 11.12.2015 on 9:22 PM Reply

    Sorry to leave a comment on the wrong page… but I'm about to brew your east valley crossfit ipa (the one that comes out around 6.7%) and decided the use US05 dry yeast to ferment. I have two packs (11.5g each) to use for this (rehydrated)… anyone have any ideas as to whether that would be overpitching? I've had problems with unfinished fermentations before, but don't want to overpitch either. Thanks for any advice anyone has!

  19. Scott 11.13.2015 on 2:58 AM Reply

    I haven't really thought about it too much. I'll probably re-brew that recipe this spring, so we'll see the

  20. Scott 11.13.2015 on 3:01 AM Reply

    While I see the same similarities you see, I can definitely tell you, this beer is quite different than Blind Pig. pig doesn't have NEARLY this much Simcoe. If you like Pliny, give the recipe a try

  21. Scott 11.13.2015 on 3:02 AM Reply

    Um, it might be slightly over pitching, but only by a factor of like 60%. I don't think you're going to see any negative effects from over pitching until you get in the 200-300% range.

  22. Scott 11.13.2015 on 3:04 AM Reply

    It's pretty minimal in a beer like this. In a blonde ale or a lightly hopped pale or something it's noticeable. WLP090 is a little softer to me, and not quite so sharp around the edges. WLP001 is a little sharper, and accentuates hop flavors a pinch more. In a double IPA, the difference isn't much.

  23. Scott 11.13.2015 on 3:07 AM Reply

    Patrick, ya, I hit 1.010. I hit the wort really hard with O2 for this batch though.

    As for the water question. RO water with some calcium chloride and gypsum added. About 2:1 gypsum to calcium chloride. I like sulfats in my IPAs, but nothing crazy.

  24. Ricky Rich 11.13.2015 on 5:35 PM Reply

    So glad you are back Scott! I really enjoy your blog and have learned so much from it. After countless attempts, your Pliny 3.0 was the closest I've got to it. Super excited to try this out. Russian River uses Chinook as the bittering addition to their session IPA which (to me) taste like baby Pliny. I'm thinking about giving that a go for the first wort hops. Thanks again!

  25. Chris Moss 11.14.2015 on 9:55 AM Reply

    Cheers for the swift reply – I'll give it a shot and see how it turns out.

    Great to see you're back posting again – re-brewing your East valley crossfit ipa as the first attempt over summer was delicious!

  26. Brett 11.14.2015 on 3:59 PM Reply

    Search around a bit for the post on another homebrew site he referenced.. It's definitely the Pliny recipe!

    • Robert visca 10.25.2016 on 8:52 AM Reply

      I found this thread a few months back ago and can no longer locate it. Can you point me in the right direction?

  27. Patrick D. Baker 11.14.2015 on 4:51 PM Reply

    This is definitely the Pliny recipe evolved. Vinnie blends in up to 15-20% marris otter in BP to enhance mouthfeel and body, and there is no simcoe in BP dry hop.

  28. Grey Ghost 11.16.2015 on 9:59 PM Reply

    The brewing sheet recipe that Scott references in the begining of the article definately says Pliny the Elder

  29. Nick Carlich 11.17.2015 on 4:33 AM Reply

    Its nice when things go perfectly, came out to 5.25 gallons or so at 1.073, got 5 gallons into a corny keg with the second dry hops and hit FG perfectly. The sample i pulled was very very bitter, almost too much but I believe it to be the still floating hop material from the first dry hops as ive experienced a similar overpowering bitterness when i try dropping hop pellets into commercial beers.

    https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/2798684/2015-11-16%2018.20.10.jpg

    I purged the keg a few times and filled it with 10PSI and just put it back in my BrewPi chamber to hold at 68F for the next week until i transfer it to a new keg.

  30. Scott Cylwik 11.25.2015 on 5:23 PM Reply

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  31. Dan Bronson 11.28.2015 on 8:11 AM Reply

    Scott what are your thoughts on using a highly attenuative yeast like WLP099 on a big IPA like this (or bigger like PTY) to ensure you hit 1.010 or lower?

  32. Robin Hung 11.29.2015 on 6:14 AM Reply

    I'm going to brew it. How do you use Dextrose? I mean when do you add Dextrose.

  33. Scott 12.02.2015 on 3:57 PM Reply

    Just add it to the boil whenever you feel like. I add it around half way through the boil. Stir well when you add it in to avoid clumping

  34. Scott 12.02.2015 on 3:58 PM Reply

    I'd really avoid it to be honest. It's not a very clean yeast strain. WLP001 is a monster for high gravity beers. If you oxygenate well, and pitch enough healthy yeast, you shouldn't have a problem. The only time I'd consider WLP099 is for beers over 14-15%

  35. Scotty_Dawg 12.04.2015 on 5:25 PM Reply

    where do you find amarillo extract?

  36. Scott 12.08.2015 on 3:38 PM Reply

    I have literally no idea. That's what Russian River apparently uses though. I just used Amarillo Pellets to substitute, and it turned out great.

  37. ugis 12.10.2015 on 8:46 AM Reply

    How come you get only 70 IBU ?
    In brewers friend calculator i get 110 IBU without whirlpool hops ( that add another 30-40 ibu assuming 10% utilisation)!

  38. Ricky Rich 01.04.2016 on 11:15 PM Reply

    I brewed this bad boy over the holiday vacation. It's fermenting away. I also took a trip to Russian River Brewing and brought some bottles home. Can't wait to see how this compares. Too bad I killed off all my Pliny bottles already! LOL

  39. Chris Moss 01.07.2016 on 12:58 PM Reply

    Hi Scott – just brewed a batch of your east valley crossfit which has come out pretty amazing – just waiting for it to carb up in the bottle. It almost tastes like tropical fruit juice!

    I'm looking to brew an IPA (rather than a DIPA) at around 6.5-7% and want to get that big resin/pine flavour from it – similar to what you'd find in Odell IPA for example. I was going to use your Blind Pig 2.0 recipe as a base – any ideas which hops to add in to get that flavour?

    So glad you're posting recipes again – always gives me a good break from work and all the best beers I've brewed have been from your site! Cheers

  40. Scott 01.07.2016 on 2:23 PM Reply

    Columbus, Chinook, Simcoe, and Cascade would be the hops I'd look at for that flavor profile. Pretty much in that order. Blind Pig has a pretty big citrus flavor, so it really wouldn't be what you're looking for.

  41. Unknown 01.10.2016 on 5:19 PM Reply

    Hey Scott,

    I have a question about not only this PTE recipe, but it applies to the PTY recipe as well. When you refer to adding the dextrose in these recipes, are you adding to the mash or boil? If in the mash, are you dissolving in the mash water prior to adding the grains, or mixed in with the grains at the same time? If adding in the boil, when are you adding it?

    I am brewing the PTY in a few days and don't want to screw it up.

    Thanks for your help,
    Dan

  42. Scott 01.11.2016 on 5:37 PM Reply

    Definitely during the boil. You don't want to have to lauter the higher gravity wort. Add during the boil with 30 or 15 minutes left in the boil. Stir it in really well.

  43. Unknown 01.12.2016 on 12:01 AM Reply

    Thanks for the reply Scott. I have the SSbrewtech 7gal Brewmaster Edition chronical that I have used for two brews now. I just need to figure out a way to purge it with co2 every time I add a dry hop addition now. I know alot of people say it's not need, but I'm a firm believer in getting the absolute least amount of o2 exposure as possible. I know the Blichmann conical has a keg lid on the cap which would make it super easy to purge.

  44. Scary Gary Brewing 02.02.2016 on 5:47 PM Reply

    Scott,
    I have brew this latest recipe twice. the first was to bitter. The second was the closest I have ever come. The flame out hops were added after reducing the kettle temp to 145, whirlpool, lid, wait 15, and pump out. I also used gypsum in the mash and late in the boil. Thanks for all of the great techniques, I have adapter most to my set-up.

  45. Unknown 02.02.2016 on 10:00 PM Reply

    Scott – based on the real PTE recipe, how will you adapt your PTY recipe? What tweaks in design and process have you considered?

  46. Scott 02.22.2016 on 11:06 PM Reply

    Glad it worked out for you =)

  47. Scott 02.22.2016 on 11:08 PM Reply

    Much much less bittering hops. I'd probably consider some cascade. I'd probably drop the carapils and swap the c40 for c60, and use a little less of it to keep the color the same.

    Nothing drastic, but there would be a few changes.

  48. Dave 02.26.2016 on 4:25 AM Reply

    Hi Scott
    I ordered all the ingredients to brew this soon. I have a vial of San Diego Super Yeast but also have a Kolsch fermenting away right now. Do you think a Wyeast Kolsch yeast would work with your Pliney clone or should I stick with the WLP090?
    Cheers

  49. Dan Bronson 03.05.2016 on 12:45 AM Reply

    Finally got around to brewing this! I have to say, I'm not totally into it. Even though mine attenuated all the way from 1.073 to 1.007 (!) it has kind of a bulky, chewy mouthfeel where I want it to be more crisp. I attribute this to the high mash temp, though it may be partially due to the Canadian Rahr 2 row I used as well. I brewed an older version of the recipe once before (same base malt) and preferred it. Thinking the carapils provides a nice silkiness and head retention without making it feel too full in the mouth. The caramel malt isn't really noticeable in this beer, which is fine with me. I didn't use English stuff though, maybe that would improve it.

    As for the hops, I was limited to what my LHBS had. Some were pretty old (they're kept in non-vacuumed baggies in a refrigerator to make matters worse). They didn't have Centennial so I had to use "Centennial Type," which is Cascade and Columbus (why does this exist?). In the end the hop expression was dull and very grassy. Mouthfeel was very astringent to start. Within days of kegging I put an ounce each of well kept 2015 harvest Simcoe, Centennial, and Amarillo in a weighted muslin bag and dropped it in the keg. Ahhhh, things have improved. It's dank as fuck now (which means I probably have pretty nice Simcoe!).

    I've never been lucky enough to find Pliny the Elder (damn the Great White North) so I can't comment on how similar this tastes. But I will say, at least on a homebrew level, I prefer the older recipes with carapils and a low mash temp. Still a nice, drinkable beer though. Hard to have just one!

  50. Kevin 05.23.2016 on 7:15 PM Reply

    Hi Scott,

    Awesome recipe! Brewed your 4.0 last month and finally got the chance to do a side by side comparison with a bottled PTE. I am no expert but this one appears to be spot on. Made the trip to RR in February of this year for the release of PTY; what an awesome beer. Picked up a case of PTE and Blind Pig and then started looking for a clone to brew. Came across your recipes and had to try. Thanks for the effort and keep them coming. BTW, I am also an Az. brewer living down in Yuma.

  51. Jasono 05.27.2016 on 6:18 PM Reply

    Yep this is it. I’m drinking my first attempt with this recipe and it’s dead on. I just need to figure out closed transfer from my chronical without clogging from the dry hops.

  52. Steve 07.16.2016 on 1:12 PM Reply

    Hi Scott!

    Great site and info. I had a question about dry hopping in a 5 gallon keg. Do you ever get the hop particulate stuck when transfering? If so, how do you avoid getting the hops stuck when siphoning off the beer?

    Any advice would be great. I’m trying to find the best dry hopping technique and this seems to be a great option.

    Thanks,
    Steve

  53. Mike 10.06.2016 on 11:08 PM Reply
  54. Alex 11.29.2016 on 12:02 AM Reply

    Im still new to all grain so this might be a stupid question, but I was wondering if the 90 min boil additions are first wort hop additions? Or does the recipe call for an actual 90 minutes of full boil? I’ve done FWH additions but never done a 90 min boil on an IPA. Only the standard 60 min. My buddy told me not to worry about longer boils unless I’m using Pilsner malt. Just ordered a bunch of hops and can’t wait to try this out! I recently moved to the Midwest from California so my chances to drink Pliny have pretty much vanished.

  55. Kevin 01.11.2017 on 8:15 AM Reply

    I don’t know how it took me so long to realise this, but flicking through Mitch Steele’s IPA book last night – I realised that it does list Cascade in the hop schedule. So it would appear that Vinnie has always been pretty open about this

    Not sure how it got lost everywhere else…

    • Scott 01.11.2017 on 10:29 PM Reply

      That’s really cool. I’ll have to take a look at that recipe and see how it compares. Thanks!

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